Alex Butler is the guitarist/vocalist of Reading’s Ancient Ascendant. 2012 is shaping up to be a big ‘un for the Berkshire demons who are set to support Aborted on their UK tour. ‘AA’ are also confirmed to perform at Catton Hall’s best festival ever – Bloodstock. ZT spoke to the Mr. Butler about important matters.
ZT: Alex Butler, you attended University College London. What did you study? Do you feel your experiences at the Ifor Evans’ Hall student dorms shaped the man you are today, and hence influence your music? How many times a day – on average – did you attend the Watershed pub?
AB: I originally applied for Death Metal studies, but they just laughed at me. Now if you look up Death Metal studies at UCL, it doesn’t even exist any more. So who had the last laugh? As for the Watershed, it was a common haunt, probably because it was 5m from my tiny student flat and served much needed booze. Ah that flat, the memories… oh yeah the memories, It had an infestation of Pharaoh ants, I couldn’t leave meat out. Now I can leave chicken out whenever I want. Death metal! Also from earlier it was me who had the last laugh.
ZT: You are a massive, even obsessed, fan of the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. What makes the movie so special to you? Is it perhaps Dorothy’s red shoes or maybe the Lion-guy’s weird antics?
AB:Unfortunately one day I watched it in the Watershed with an aggravating Fin, needless to say I haven’t seen it since.
ZT: You are originally from Reading. Do you ever feel humbled to be from the town that produced Oscar Wilde, Chris Tarrant and Xerath? During your wanders (let’s say through the Orcale mall in the heart of town), do you ever stop just to take in the atmosphere? Inhale the same air as former Portsmouth defender Neil Webb?
AB:Spying the varied delights of the Oracle, sampling the quality beverages at the Purple Turtle, feasting upon Favorite [sic] fried chicken. Truly Reading is a town of wonder. So many famous names, which must be why when even someone as famous as me walks the streets I face almost total indifference.
ZT: Your bassist is also called Webb. Is he perhaps Neil Webb’s son in law?
AB: Although Webb may be his get, we never wanted to mention it for cheap hype. You know how it is, a few blabbermouth stories and we’re suddenly “Neil Webb’s Son’s Band”, expected to wear football kit live, it’s a potential disaster.
ZT:Where does the name Butler come from? Were your parents butlers? Or is “Alex Butler” just a ‘cool’ death metal pseudonym you came up with?
AB: It is a very ‘cool’ death metal pseudonym. Recently some have pointed out that it has the same spelling as my real name “Alex Butler”, and come to think of it the pronunciation is also similar. These are just details though. Death metal!
ZT: You play in some band called Ancient Ascendant. With so much going on, where do you conjure the time for this project?
AB: I had allocated up to 40% of my personal time for awards. There has been some strange mix ups though and I find I have plenty of time for the band.
ZT: You are on the Factory Music roster. How did that come about?
AB:We were talking with them, and they offered to work with us. Indeed Factory are the fine people who put us supporting Aborted for a UK tour this June.
ZT: You will be playing Bloodstock this year… and are also to tour with some massive gore band. Should be ‘good craic’, no?
AB: Indeed excellent craic! We’ve been going to Bloodstock personally all these years, it’s the sort of place crammed with thousands of sweaty extreme metal folk. It’s a massive opportunity to put our metal in the Sophie tent, so I hope we don’t clash with someone better!
ZT: Back in the noughties you played a show at the Bar Monsta (now a crack-den) wearing a jumper. What possessed you to wear that very jumper? Are jumpers ‘death metal’?
AB: Hahaha, you bastard! I’ve been trying to bury that. I did indeed wear a jumper and looked miserable for no reason. Apparently looking a bit like a prick in a band doesn’t sell. Who knew?
ZT: What does Ancient Ascendant mean?
AB:It roughly translates as “hurty neck – not boring riffs”
ZT: What’s up with Navigator? The band is listed being from Surrey, whilst AA is from Berkshire. How can you be in two places at the same time?
AB:That was Webb’s project (his newer project is Arkavist but they haven’t done anything yet). He lived in sorry spot in Surrey called Frimley at the time. I can only imagine Webb drew from the inspiring architecture and vibrant night life. Ultimately he failed to make the EP anywhere near as depressing as it’s origin.
ZT: Why did you decide to cover ‘Flash Of The Silverhammer’ and not the hockey song?
AB: None of us could afford the whistle necessary to do Sudden Death justice, but thunder effects are free! So we picked Flash of the Silverhammer, thinking we’d butcher that one the least destructively. That tribute release looks great though, should be out this summer, I think.
ZT: You are in a long-term relationship. Do you find that not having to hang around the Crobar trying to pick up chicks allows you to spend more time writing riffs? Or are you perhaps severely under the boot?
AB:Exactly, all time must be spent concentrating on focusing. You can’t be prowling the streets in search of up-for-its, besides that’s more of a rock sentiment and this is metal dammit! So you either do what I did and find someone who’ll agree to live with you and withstand your wretched form on a daily basis, or you conduct controlled pant-explosions twice a week.
ZT: What’s next for AA? Are you an alcoholic?
AB: We’re recording our new EP in early May (so pretty much now), a 4 track release which will put a dash of Black metal into our sound. We’re planning on doing a video for one of the new ones. Then we’re onto the road to play our guts off. We’re aiming to get a lot done this year, and become a lot more known. As for alcoholism, yes that must explain my sloppy guitar skills and bad singing. Although I don’t remember being that drunk.